Champion alum returns to face Panthers

Taylor Lynch
Illinois State Redbird/
2017 state champ alum

Taylor Lynch, 2018 CF graduate and key component of the 2017 State Championship winning team, will be returning “home” as the Illinois State Redbirds take on the UNI Panthers on Saturday, Oct. 12. 

With a family that’s willing to travel, Lynch said her family makes it to quite a few of her games throughout the season. 

“My family is so supportive of me, and they come to as many games as they can. During season I don’t get the opportunity to go home, so when they come and see me is the only time I can see them until winter break in December. It’s four hours away, and many of the Valley schools aren’t too far, so it’s close enough that they can come to most of my games,” Lynch said.

Even though her family is able to make most of her games, there’s still something special for Lynch about getting to play at UNI.

“It’s very exciting for me getting to come play at UNI. It’s a game I look forward to because I have so many family and friends that get the chance to come to this game, and some of them only get to see me play then,” Lynch said.

Not only is it about getting to see family and friends, but getting to play the Panthers is also exciting for Lynch. “I’ve played with and against a lot of the current players as well, so it’s a friendly competition for me getting to see some familiar faces,” Lynch said.

Lynch, a redshirt freshman, learned a lot from her time in the gym and weight room last year and has a lot of confidence going into the season. “Redshirting for me was an opportunity I am so grateful for. I gained a lot from my redshirt year including the opportunity to learn from the upperclassmen in my position as well as continuing to develop my skills and have a year already here under my belt. Getting the chance to train at a high level and get stronger for a whole year really helped to give me an edge going into this season,” Lynch said. 

In her second season as a Redbird, Lynch is setting some individual goals for herself as the team heads into conference play. “I think my biggest goal for myself is to step in and be the best teammate and motivator on the team. I think that if you can be a player that brings out the best in not only your performance but in others, it makes you that much more valuable,” Lynch said. 

The Illinois State volleyball team has started the season well, even beating some ranked teams in the preseason, including No. 14 Illinois who went to the Final Four last season. With a young team this year, the Redbirds plan to weather the storm as the season continues. “Some goals we have as a team is to stay in our process and know that we have to keep working hard and grinding even if the outcome isn’t there yet. We have a very young team this year, so it’s been a goal for our team to train ugly and try new things to grow and gain experience and confidence,” Lynch said.

Lynch plans on seeing her parents, her two brothers, Jack and Will, as well as her grandma and aunts and uncles. It’s primarily a “business trip” down in Cedar Falls, though, so Lynch won’t be able to spend much time with family and friends following the game. Still, she recognizes the importance of reconnecting with them. 

“My family is the biggest support system, and it means the world to me. They’ve always been so supportive of my athletics, and they are my biggest motivators. I also have friends and family friends that keep up with my career, and knowing that I have a lot of people rooting for the team and mine’s success, I’m so grateful for that,” Lynch said.

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